JBlog Carnival Updates, HH, KCC & JPIX

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pirsum HaNes, Publicizing the Miracle, Purim and Obvious Jewish Dress

One of the major commandments for Chanukah isn't eating oily food, latkes, sufganiyot etc, it's publicizing the miracles G-d has done for us.  That's one of the reasons I consider the Matisyahu video was the perfect Chanukah celebration. 

Matisyahu isn't "discreet" about his religious commitment and observance.  He dresses in the full regalia of Torah observant, Chassidic style clothes.  Yes, he's very "in your face" about his commitment to Jewish life, sartorial Pirsum HaNes.  That's the opposite of the discreet "black kippah" style, black, so it will blend into one's hair versus the colorful, and frequently large,  crocheted kippah which frequently is accompanied by long tzitziyot flying along like extra spidery legs and wild, untamed pe'ot so different from the minimal sideburns other Jewish men sport.
Here's a similar look.  Living in Shiloh, men like this aren't unusual.

"Black Pride" from a few decades ago gave more Jews the confidence to publically dress according to Jewish Law.

One of the courses I've been studying in Matan is  Decoding the Riddled Text of Esther taught by Atara Snowbell.  We're delving deeply and slowly into the Megilla, Scroll of Ester, the story of Purim.  The story of Ester and Mordechai begins with a description of King Achasverosh's feasts and celebrations in the early years of his kingship.  It's clear that the Jewish community joined in.  "We're loyal Persians first!"  They didn't even protest when valuable dishes, goblets etc stolen from the Holy Jewish Temple were blatantly displayed and used by the Persian invaders.

The hero and heroine of the story, Mordechai and Ester both go by Persian names.  Mordechai has no other name to our knowledge.  Ester is also identified by her Jewish name, הדס Haddas, which means myrtle. Haddas, as a plant, brings us to another Jewish holiday, Succot.  It's one of the four species.  Chazal, our sages, consider each as symbolizing certain characteristics of the Jewish People.  I have some haddas myrtle bushes in front of my house.  They are very strong and hearty, green all year long.  They're modest and have a hidden strength.  That "hidden strength" makes it Ester the perfect translation.  Ester is considered a Persian name, meaning star, but you can also hear a Hebrew name in Ester from the verb להסתרת l'hastair to hide.  There are two reasons:
  • Mordechai ordered Ester to hide her true identity. 
  • G-d's presence is hidden, but we can see His behind the scenes control.
The Megilat Ester is written in code.

It happens out of the Holy Land.  The Chanukah story happens right here, near Shiloh, in the Holy Land.  On Chanukah we light our windows and doorways with our public miracle lights. This is the Jewish pride holiday!

More thoughts will be posted later, G-d willing...


Hadassa said...

The tzaddikim (righteous) are likened to haddas (myrtle).

Shy Guy said...

"This is the Jewish pride holiday!"

Down with Chanukah!

Batya said...

Hadassa, Shy, thanks for the input. Today's Matan shiur was the best yet!

Anonymous said...

you exaggerate. we must publicize the chanuka miracle, not general miracles.
and do you really think those who wear black kippot do so to hide their judaism?!?

Batya said...

"exaggerate?" No way! "Hodu laShem ki tov!"
I have no doubt that the black color was chosen to blend in to most people's hair. They don't glorify the mitvah/halacha.

Shy Guy said...

I just noticed Batya's comment on black kippot. Has it ever crossed your mind that simple black is a subdued, somber and humbling color by its nature and that those are traits which are related to the attribute of the fear of Heaven, which a kippah is supposed to recall to us sloppy-minded males in the first place?

I have no problem with kippot of any color or material but the "match you hair color" postulation is total nonsense.

This is also the same reason why many "colorful" people will still only don a black and white Talit Gadol for prayers. It serves a similar purpose during prayer, especially in a minyan, where it takes on a task as a congregational uniform.

For that reason, some people view it as the antithesis of a Talit's purpose to decorate the neck lining of the Talit with anything whatsoever, as is commonly done.

And, no, I have nothing against the decorative neck linings. My point is that I have nothing against the standard ones that come manufactured with the Talit Gadol.

Batya said...

"subdued" is too close to unnoticed

There are still "frum" Jews, especially in Chu"L who take off their kippot in certain public places, prefering to "wear" them in their pockets. At best they wear a black one to "match" their hair at first glance.

A kippah doesn't need to be psychodelic or trimmed with gold and silver, but the point is that they should be noticable.

A tallit gadol is noticeable, unless it's worn under one's coat when there isn't an eruv on Shabbat... but that's a different story.

Anonymous said...

the point is not so they should be noticeable.
the point is for them to be worn, particularly during rituals. [there is plenty of precedent in the ashkenazi and sefardi culture to not wear a kipa when not engaged in ritual.]

Batya said...

a, why the hetter/psak not to wear them 24/7?

YMedad said...

a) plenty of German Jews who paskened that head coverings were only when brachot were to be said and I had a very Orthodox professore like that, Agus, at YU;

b) all this kippa talk ignores Sfaradi Jewry and their styled headcoverings in the lands of origin and in Israel;

Anonymous said...

ymedad: i specifically mentioned sefardic culture, where they very often did not regularly wear kipot.

Batya said...

clarification, how about distinguishing between head-coverings in general and kippot, a small round hat, of unknown origin.

Anonymous said...

batya, i do not understand. if they -- i assume you mean sefardim -- just wore nondescript hats [and i believe it was no big deal for them to walk around bare-headed, as many older fully observant sefardim do today], then they are really not distinguishing their jewishness thru their head covering, are they?

Batya said...

Every location/culture developed their own style of head-covering. There's nothing particularly holy about a round skullcap.